Wednesday, April 30, 2008
There were four leaders who were currently leading reproducing churches. Three of them had planted their church and established multiplication as an aspect of their DNA. One, Derek Duncan, had only been at his church since 2004. The church he pastors is East 91st Christian Church in Indianapolis. This one church recently planted its fiftieth (50) church!
Here is what he said that I have mused on since it slipped from his lips. He said, "I came to a reproducing church."
Do you realize what a HUGE statement that is? It is pregnant with rich reality. When he came to the church its mission would not change. They reproduce! It was not the vision of the previous pastor. It was not something only a few connected with and it faded over time. It was not a seasonal venture. It did not have the character of a summer romance. The need to reproduce had been so deeply etched in the ethos of this community that a new pastor would not be called who might want to change it.
The pastor was called to add to the venture, but there would be no new vision, no retracing steps, no having to catch the heart of God for what is next. They were a reproducing lot and Derek was simply called to take that heart to a new level.
I loved it! I can speak from experience of times my personality and passion has driven the agenda for an organization. But once I was gone they reverted back to what they were before my arrival. Not E91st! They know what they are and call leaders to move them forward in their ministry.
I am more convinced that I will never be sure the movement of missional multiplication that I currently have a role in leading is genuinely a movement until I am gone. When that time comes and it continues on, then satisfaction can be taken in having been a part of something truly Kingdom worthy!
Monday, April 28, 2008
- "God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world..." (4:9)
- "This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son..."(4:10)
- "...we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent his Son..." (4:14)
There it is in its simplicity. God sent his Son. He revealed his missionary spirit by engaging us. He beckoned us to himself, by coming to us himself. Love is best expressed by sending, going, intentionally connecting.
God sent his Son, his Son sends us. Believers are the sent expression of God today. The church is the missional agent of God in the world. The church is foremost a mission agency. We must recapture this spirit. Do less holding on, and more handing out.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
I celebrated by having a apple fritter at Starbucks. Not the best fritter I have had, but not the worst either. I have to say it is very difficult to find an excellent apple fritter. They have to be crispy on the outside and a bit gooey on the inside with no lack of apple bits. The best I have ever had was from an unknown bakery in El Cajon, CA. It was purchased and provided for me when I was an interim preacher at El CAjon Wesleyan Church. I will be out that way in July for the Pacific-Southwest District conference. The conference is held at that church. I will have to contact the administrative assistant at EWC and request one for the first morning of the conference. Nothing to lose.
If anyone has a suggest as to a location in the greater Indy area that has an outstanding fritter...don't keep it a secret. Share so those of us in this area can give it a try.
Friday, April 25, 2008
We meandered through the Kroger's. We have begun to stock up on grilling items. We are not quite to the time when we can grill and eat outside. It was beautiful today, but tomorrow it takes another one of those Midwest temperature dives. I still don't get it!
We went to a movie. Once again we found ourselves the ONLY people in the theater. Evidently we have discovered the very best time to attend movies, or we have the most unique taste in movies, or, unbeknownst to us, they are beginning to make movies just for us. Since there is no scientific way to determine this, I choose the third option.
And, I got to mow my lawn today. The first of the year. I mowed and edged. I love this! I get to actually finish a project. This is a luxury in my life. And there is no phone to bother me, or e-mail to answer. I just to get to be.
In one week I am running in a mini-marathon (13.2 miles). Tomorrow I am suppose to take my last distance run prior to this event. It is my goal to run ten plus miles. This I can't believe. So if I don't blog for awhile it is simply because I am too tired, laying beside the road exhausted, or just decided I didn't have much to say.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
My youngest son, Scott, turned 23 today. I find it somewhat unbelievable my youngest child is 23, until I realize I am 53 and I am my mom's youngest child. WOW!
One of the member's of today's worship team had a cell phone attached to their pocket. I thought this a bit odd. I mean if they were able to hear it ring, or feel it vibrate would they actually answer it? If not, why do they have it with them at all?
"When the Kingdom takes priority you ask what is the best way? Not what is the best way to make me, or my church, look good." Randy Pope
"Ultimately all churches are evaluated by the quality of their disciples." Neil Cole
"The fact that Jesus is the Christ is the glue that holds us all together." Andy Stanley
East 91st Street Christian Church is over eighty years old. They have just planted their 50th church. Their annual church planting budget is 1.5 million dollars. That is more money than the denomination I participate invests in church planting. Incredible!
Reproducing people will naturally flow into a reproducing church.
Ed Stetzer put up a list of resources he recommends for those wanting to be a reproducing church. One of those was my book, "The Ripple Church." It was thrilling seeing my book on a huge screen. 2700 leaders saw it! I have to say it was humbling stuff.
Andy Stanley stated, "Vision is a mental picture of what could be fueled by a passion that it should be." What vision do you have?
Monday, April 21, 2008
Today I was in a session moderated by Ed Stetzer. Presenters were Ron Sylvia, Stephen Gray and Tom Clegg. Each brought a wonderful perspective to multiplication.
As at most conferences there is an array of displays. As I walked through the vendors, the providers of products and material I found myself taken aback at where this has come. It was not too many years ago that a conference emphasizing planting could have been held in a good sized closet. Now we are at a very large Baptist Church (Orlando First Baptist) with around 2500 in attendance.
I think this is a good thing? I definitely believe we need more people engaging in this area, but I just don't want to get so main stream that it becomes trendy.
We need to stay on the edge. Live on the scary side of our ministries. It will take adjusting, changing, risking, believing, innovating and getting over ourselves.
Often success breeds comfortableness. Comfortableness results in settling in. What begins as a movement can easily erode into maintenance. We have to intentionally keep on the edge. Every time we are tempted to hedge our courage, back pedal or back away from the challenge of real faith we must resist.
We must not become what we push back against: The ministry of the mundane. The ease of organization. The confines of structure. When we refuse to move from the center of our certainties we have begun to become the religion of the acceptable.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Denn leads the church planting charge for the district. He planted his church eleven years ago. He has a wonderful facility. They have become the community church. In a few minutes I will be heading out to their Saturday night service.
AJ is in the very beginning stages of planting Deep Water. It is in the heart of downtown Halifax. They currently meet in a theater. This church got a nice jumpstart from Hillside which resides across the bay in Dartmouth. Two different kinds of churches reaching different folks. The beauty of planting.
Kevin just took over a church that was planted, I believe, about seven years prior. He followed the planter, Dean Brown. Hearing his heart and passion for the people of the church and the community he will do an outstanding job of taking this church to a new level. They currently meet in a high school.
If God brings it to mind pray for Kevin, AJ and Denn. They are harvesting fruit in the ministry field of Nova Scotia.
Friday, April 18, 2008
I am here to meet with Denn and some planters. Denn and I will review the district planting strategies. We will be having lunch on the water with the planters.
I gained an hour here. My eleven pm has quickly become midnight. I am looking forward to a relaxing Saturday morning. I will take a run, do some work then meet Denn and his wife for lunch with the others.
Being out here in the field where the rubber meets the road is an enjoyable part of my job. Denn came here over ten years ago with just his family. He dug the church, Cornerstone, he leads out of nothing. They now average over 2oo, but it was not without challenge, frustration, a wondering if he could hang on. But hang on he did. Now there is a vibrant missional outpost here. He even daughtered another church about fifteen minutes away. Great stuff!
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
I enjoy my trips to Canada. It is a beautiful country with great people. I get to feel a bit cross cultural without learning a new language. Okay, Canadians do have a bit of a twist on some of their pronunciations, but I mostly understand them. They also have Tim Horton's. I love Tim Horton's. Tim's is a coffee place. I love coffee! And when I am here I drink a lot of Tim's!
Canadian drivers also give "real" right-a-way to pedestrians. By real I mean they actually stop for those folks on two feet who step into the street. In the States pedestrians are suppose to have the right-a-way, but those of us who have walked in streets south of Canada know this is simply a concept.
On this trip I did discover even my Canadian friends have a limits to pedestrians. I went on a jog. It seems deferring to those stepping into streets only applies to those meandering. Which is pretty much the speed I jog, so I am not sure why I was not mistaken for a walker.
It also doesn't apply to those walking across parking lots. I was making my way across a large parking lot heading toward, that's right, Tim's! An older man was turning his car. Now he had the entire expanse of the parking lot to make his turn, but evidently I was in his favorite turning place. He headed right toward me. Fortunately he missed.
Crossing streets and drinking Tim's. This a little piece of out of country heaven.
Monday, April 14, 2008
We have a new theater that has opened up in our area, so we decided to attend an early afternoon showing. We were the ONLY ones in the theater. I am not kidding! We have been in some sparsely attended movies, but we have never been by ourselves. It was like having a huge screen in our home. We didn't even have to whisped when we talked during the movie. It was very enjoyable. So if you are weary of crowds I recommend you go to a movie in a new theater on a Monday afternoon that is not summer.
Bottom line: We had a wonderful time. Simple moments with someone you care about is always the best.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
This is a reality of the church today. We need to recognize that the work IS outside the walls! We must not cloister ourselves. We must not limit our service to God to meeting together, worship and interaction with fellow believers.
We must be willing to look outside our walls. It is here we will find the opportunities God has for us. Missional engagement demands the walls of our churches be scaled.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Currently I am on the road with my colleague, Jim. We are presenting a one day seminar entitled "The Intentional Missional Church." The focus is on personal maturity, leadership, discipleship and getting the church to look beyond itself. This is not easy. Most of us prefer to look inward. The outward glance is time intensive and usually will put us in a bit of discomfort. Most don't gravitiate toward such a position.
Ease of existence is most desired. I recently saw an ad in USA Today that said: "No dieting + No exercise = effortless weight loss." This was followed by: Is it magic or is it science? I'll tell you what it is, it is wrong. But this is what we want, results with no effort.
This is the world of make believe. Weight loss does not happen effortlessly and churches do not turn around without effort. The sooner we understand this and begin to invest the time, energy and effort we will see more churches make the tough choices that will move them toward effectiveness.